Australia should cut emissions much harder

The independent Climate Change Authority has recommended that the Abbott government adopt a 30% reduction target on 2000 levels by 2025.

Australia is the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter, measured  in tonnes per head, and the thirteenth largest measured in tonnes per country.

Top 15 greenhouse gas emitters in 2011
Top 15 greenhouse gas emitters in 2011

This shows the countries with the largest carbon emissions
Australia is the 13th largest emitter with 1.3% of emissions.

Carbon Emissions per Person
Carbon Emissions per Person

This shows the countries with the largest carbon emissions per person. Australia releases more greenhouse gas per person than any other developed country: 26.6 tons per person.

Carbon emissions include carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases.  They are measured in tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.

(Sydney Morning Herald: 21 april 2015)

Why Australia must stop exporting coal (Nov 2012)

While Australia’s domestic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions represent some 1.5% of the global total, its global carbon footprint – the total amount of carbon it pushes out into the global economy – is much bigger.

Australia is the world’s largest coal exporter. By adding emissions from exported coal to our domestic emissions, Australia’s carbon footprint trebles. Its coal exports alone currently contribute at least another 3.3% of global emissions.  In aggregate, therefore, Australia is at present the source of at least 4.8% of total global emissions. That’s without considering natural gas exports.

The proposed export of coal from the “mega coal mines” in Queensland’s Galilee Basin could, when burnt, emit 705 million tonnes of CO2 per year, turning the Galilee Basin alone into the world’s seventh largest contributor of emissions.

When current domestic carbon dioxide emissions and exported CO2 emissions are combined, Australia ranks as the planet’s 6th largest emitter of CO2 – after China, the USA, the Russian Federation, India and Indonesia. It is responsible directly and indirectly for over 1.5 billion tonnes of CO2 per year – more than the combined emissions from both Germany (population 82 million) and the UK (population 62 million).

(The Conversation: 2 Nov 2012)


The Climate Change Authority report summary says:

The Climate Change Authority is required by legislation to review Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals and report on progress towards them.

Climate change science is clear: the world is warming and human activities are the dominant cause.

Climate change poses major risks for Australia’s people, economy and environment. A warmer climate is predicted to increase the frequency and intensity of weather extremes, such as heatwaves, droughts, floods and bushfires, and to cause rises in sea levels. Australia is likely to better adapt to projected impacts if global warming is limited to less than 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels. With larger increases, adaptation can be expected to become increasingly costly and challenging

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